Alistair Dabbs

Contact Mail Follow Twitter RSS feed
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling IT journalism, editorial training and digital publishing.
Nikola Tesla's fake lightning, Recuerdos de Pandora on Flickr CC2.0 license

Let me PLUG that up there, love. It’s perfectly standaAAARGH!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Want a new driveway? No problem, mate. Fix your garage door? Sorted. Oh, what, you want the the garage door to open on to the driveway? Oh no no no no, no can do, pal, that’s not done, they is sep’rate. Tell you what, though, I got a mate who could build you a shortcut so you can get the car from the drive to the garage through …
Alistair Dabbs, 04 Jul 2015
Darth Vader choking someone

That man told me to stuff a ROLE up my USER ENTRY!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Who are you, again?” Well, that’s just great. I’ve been talking to tech support customer services for barely two minutes and already he’s forgotten my name. To be honest, I can hardly blame him, considering my own inability to memorise names instantly, as recounted in this column many times. Tell me your name and within 10 …
Alistair Dabbs, 27 Jun 2015

FLICK my FLINT and SNIFF my TREE on the streets of Naples

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Youtube Video "See Naples and die" the saying goes. After visiting the city recently, I can believe it. Hang around there long enough and you’ll be dead. The likely causes of your imminent death in Naples are many: you might be run over by a motor scooter, stumble into a pothole in the broken pavements, get hit by falling …
Alistair Dabbs, 20 Jun 2015
zombie_648

DON’T add me to your social network, I have NO IDEA who you are

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Alistair Dabbs is away. This column is a repeat publication from back in 2014. Enjoy! Norbert Spankmonkey has invited you to connect. Oh dear, not another one of these mystery invitations. Who the heck is Norbert Spankmonkey? Did we exchange emails perhaps, or cross swords recently on a forum? Could I have met him at that …
Alistair Dabbs, 13 Jun 2015
self-service checkout

Oh, shoppin’ HELL: I’m in the supermarket of the DAMNED

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Alistair Dabbs is away. This column is a repeat publication from all the way back in 2013. Enjoy! “Thank you for using Fast Checkout.” Whuh? “Thank you for using Fast Checkout.” It’s nice to be thanked by a machine but I haven’t used Fast Checkout. Not yet, anyway. I’m still standing at the automated till with a heavy metal …
Alistair Dabbs, 06 Jun 2015
Homer Drooling

The oracle knows all. Not THAT Oracle, of course

Something for the Weekend, Sir? We’ve reached the end of an extended, hot, steamy and sweaty session that has been going on practically non-stop for several days – just me and four willing young women. One of them suddenly sits up, looks into my eyes and whispers those magic words: “I have a quick question.” Oh lordy, here we go. It’s almost five o’clock on …
Alistair Dabbs, 30 May 2015
Fritz Pfleumer with his magnetic tape recorder

Putting your schlong into the reel-to-reel tape machine is a bad idea

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Last week, I promised you I’d rip my two mighty appearances on Granada Plus’s The Computer Channel (later relaunched as .tv) in 1997 from VHS. Well, a promise is a promise, if only half-kept. Here for your viewing curiosity is just one of my BAFTA nomination-worthy performances for a short-lived night-time satellite TV programme …
Alistair Dabbs, 23 May 2015
Starbucks Dabbsy

Right Dabbsy my old son, you can cram this job right up your BLEEEARRGH

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Slinking away early from yet another works leaving party this week, I was reminded with some regret that I will never get one of my own. All those nice words spoken, all those pats on the back, all those clinking glasses of pub house wine. How lovely it must be to be surrounded by so many faithful colleagues celebrating the fact …
Alistair Dabbs, 16 May 2015
Passenger plane exploding on the gournd

SOD TABLETS, if you want to get anything done travelling get a ... yes, a LAPTOP

SFTW, Sir? Some people mature like a fine wine. Others mellow out like a smooth whiskey. Yet others get more sprightly and a bit fruity as they grow older, akin to a strong gin and tonic. I am a cheap Rioja. By this, you understand that I’m widely available and don't cost much but never quite live up to my reputation. In fact, I often …
Alistair Dabbs, 09 May 2015
School of Rock

Why should I learn by ORAL tradition? Where's the DOCUMENTATION?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? The eye-rolling comes first. This is followed by a resigned sagging of the shoulders. Then comes a theatrical slump forward, often accompanied by an equally melodramatic groan, as each user in turn puts head on desk and covers same with arms. And so begins a new round of user training in a new piece of content management …
Alistair Dabbs, 02 May 2015
Acer Iconia One 8

Acer introduces a REVOLUTION in tablet tech: The PENCIL

Pics In an earlier article on The Register, Acer revealed its PC plans – but also in evidence at its recent press launch in New York last week was the company’s belief that there is still plenty of room in certain market segments for tablets. Acer Iconia One 8 Acer's Iconia One 8: why buy a fancy stylus when you can use the 2mm tip …
Alistair Dabbs, 28 Apr 2015
Acer E series

Acer: 'We will be the last man standing in the PC industry'

Pics Acer CEO Jason Chen this week tore through the company's international product launch presentation – on the 68th floor of New York's 4 World Trade Center – like a rock star on speed from start to finish. He even donned sunglasses at one point and there seemed every chance that he might not take them off. Acer E series laptops …
Alistair Dabbs, 27 Apr 2015
Man in an orange jumpsuit clutches prison bars. Image by Shutterstock

Stuff your RFID card, just let me through the damn door!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? "Never heard of them." Well, could you look again? "They're not on the list, sir." Look, I was here last week. The business I am visiting today definitely exists. It's in this building. Please let me through. [shuffling of papers] "Did you want Amalgamated Durables? No? How about Insure and Blow? Or is it one of those tech …
Alistair Dabbs, 25 Apr 2015
Wolfenstein 3D

Let’s PULL Augmented Reality and CLIMAX with JISM

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Augmented Reality is a terrible expression,” says the AR demonstrator. “It’s a pity it doesn’t have a better name. So we call it XXooming. With two Xs.” Oh dear, I can tell this is about to be a presentation involving a string of brand-new made-up terms designed to mask the abject failure of the technology in question to have …
Alistair Dabbs, 18 Apr 2015
Crystal ball via http://www.manoftaste.de/

Struggling through the Crystal Maze in our hunt for a spare CAT5

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “For heaven’s sake, they’ve moved everything.” Sharp observation. Of course they moved everything, it’s an office move. If they hadn’t moved everything, some of your kit wouldn’t be there at all. It would still be 10 metres away where you used to sit. We are Glass – Gary Numan As office moves go, at one of my client’s premises …
Alistair Dabbs, 11 Apr 2015
Gromit as HMV dog Little Nipper

Streaming tears of laughter as Jay-Z (Tidal) waves goodbye to $56m

Something for the Weekend, Sir? This was a contradictory week for the music industry. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. On Wednesday, I attended the unveiling of an IEEE Milestone plaque to commemorate the invention of stereo recording in 1931 by the prodigious scientist-engineer Alan Dower Blumlein. The event was hosted by Abbey Road …
Alistair Dabbs, 04 Apr 2015
Jeremy Clarkson

Forum chat is like Clarkson punching you repeatedly in the face

Something for the Weekend, Sir? How can you condone racist violence, Alistair? Blimey! I’m not sure I know the answer to that one. In this round, there is no conferring. They sure come up with difficult questions in online forums. Perhaps my interrogator and I are at cross-purposes. I decide to find out. “Racist violence?” I type tentatively without …
Alistair Dabbs, 28 Mar 2015

Dear departed Internet Explorer, how I will miss you ... NOT

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Rumours reaching Dabbsy Towers that Microsoft might be finally letting Internet Explorer die gave me absolutely no joy or cause for celebration. Hahahahahahahaha. It has been said in places that, having been the world’s favourite web browser straddling the Millennium years, Internet Explorer defined the emerging Internet age. …
Alistair Dabbs, 21 Mar 2015

Yay! Wearables! It's the future! Uh-oh! I'm going to be sick

Something for the Weekend, Sir? What do you do when your brain is missing? Let’s say you put it down somewhere the night before but you can’t remember where and now you can’t find it. Or perhaps you were harmlessly manning the comms link when the bugs tunnelled under your off-world fort, jumped up and sucked your brains out. I have the answer: get yourself a …
Alistair Dabbs, 14 Mar 2015
Child swearing

Give biometrics the FINGER: Horror tales from the ENCRYPT

Something for the Weekend, Sir? This week’s sorry tale of security-lapse-by-design might reveal plenty about political interference but it tells us even more about human nature in general. Due to some poorly thought-out US government policy some 20 years ago, yet another security lapse has raised its ugly head, drawn back its lips and threatened to sink its …
Alistair Dabbs, 07 Mar 2015

I, ROBOT ~ YOU, MORON. How else will automated news work?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? They want to replace me with a robot. This is an excellent idea. In a world of unlimited connected information, it’s about time that the middleman stopped getting in the way. Things happen, facts materialise, they end up online, then you read them. Simple, really. What’s a journalist for? Even better, El Reg commentards will …
Alistair Dabbs, 28 Feb 2015

For pity's sake, you FOOL! DON'T UPGRADE it will make it WORSE

Something for the Weekend, Sir? It’s decided: I am going to be an actor. Apparently, actors have better sex lives than any other profession. In fact, according to the press release in front of me, they shag 550 per cent more often than bankers. Oh, hang on. The survey didn’t quote “actors” exactly, it said “those in acting and performing”. Given that some of …
Alistair Dabbs, 21 Feb 2015
Stella Artois: Queens Tennis Championship. Artwork by stevecaplin.com for The Guardian

(Re)touching on a quarter-century of Adobe Photoshop

Feature Nothing proves the popularity of a star product more than its name being used as a verb. Rival companies hate it, but carpets get Hoovered, wrapping paper gets Sellotaped. And what do you do to a photo? A poorly Photoshopped picture can arouse horror or derision, while a half-decent one can become an internet phenomenon. Think …
Alistair Dabbs, 19 Feb 2015
Glorious future of China

In praise of China’s CROONING censors: Company songs NOW!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Clear the desk of work, put the phone on voicemail, set your email to auto-reply and sign that restraining order against the increasingly desperate Madonna. Allow nothing to interrupt the 3:11 of sheer pleasure that is Cyberspace Spirit, the televised performance of the official anthem for China’s web censors. As soon as I …
Alistair Dabbs, 14 Feb 2015

Smartphones don’t dumb you down, they DUMB you UP

Something for the Weekend, Sir? My wife has asked me to produce my dong when she is least expecting it. Apparently, this will help her to refocus during lengthy meditation exercises. She has also asked me to produce this occasional chiming sound (that’s right, a "dong" – why, what did you think I meant?) from different locations in the room. Better still, to …
Alistair Dabbs, 07 Feb 2015
Angry woman on mobile

BYOD is NOT the Next Biggest Thing™: Bring me Ye Olde Lappetoppe

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Remember BYOD? Well, it’s BYODded off into the sunset. It was the Next Big Thing, just before the next Next Big Thing that came after that and it followed hot on the heels of the Previous Big Thing. Without doubt, BYOD was big and it was a thing – but the party is over. For the benefit of occasional readers of this column who …
Alistair Dabbs, 31 Jan 2015

YOU. Your women are mine. Give them to me. I want to sell them

Something for the Weekend, Sir? A friend of mine had his wife stolen three times this week. The first two times, they gave her back within hours. On the third occasion, however, they seemed determined to hold on to her for a month. This is the risk you take if you insist on uploading your wife to YouTube. I’d better explain. Be prepared for a sorry tale of …
Alistair Dabbs, 24 Jan 2015
President Putin on horseback

‘Whatever happened to Vladimir Putin?’ and other crap New Year prophesies

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Cross my palm with bitcoin, dearies, and I shall tell your fortune. Why not? Everyone else is doing it. Blogs, press releases and fashion celebrity know-nothings seem compelled to share their trend-spotting tips for the year, under the sneaky guise of making shit up. To gauge how useless these annual predictions can be, for a …
Alistair Dabbs, 17 Jan 2015
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

Last year was utter rubbish. Thanks for being part of it!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I’m glad 2014 is over. It was rubbish. However, given the circumstances, can we have it back please? This year is worse. Not only was last year crap for many, Facebook’s algorithm oompaloopas made sure they rubbed it in by showing us graphically how crap it was via its now-notorious Year in Review fail. To be fair, all it did …
Alistair Dabbs, 10 Jan 2015
Angry old man

You have a 'SIMPLE QUESTION'? Well, the answer is NO

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Old Man by Neil Young I am accosted in a shop by an aged gentleman with a posh accent, impeccable manners and a dripping nose. “Excuse me, I have a simple question.” Confession: I am in a suburban Apple Store so you may be inclined to think I deserve whatever I get simply for being there. In my defence, let me assure you I had …
Alistair Dabbs, 20 Dec 2014

Real Ale TWATS: In SPAAAACE, no one can churn your cream

Something for the Weekend, Sir? How can you get pissed, generously fed AND intellectually intrigued for a mere tenner in this day and age? Easy: sign up to attend one of The Register’s Christmas Lectures. Oh, except you can’t because the last one was held earlier this week in central London. Sorry if you missed it, heh. OK, a few pints won’t get the average …
Alistair Dabbs, 13 Dec 2014

How HAPPY am I on a scale of 1 to 10? Where do I click PISSED OFF?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I am in a long, slow-moving queue of anxious passengers trudging through airport security like chained natives thrown into the lava pit by Ursula Andress giving a “lesson in obedience”. I remove all items from my trouser pockets and put them in my coat pockets. I take off my coat and put it in a plastic tray. My laptop goes in …
Alistair Dabbs, 06 Dec 2014

Go festive this year with Christmas carols, baby Jesus and CLITORAL STIMULATORS

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Taking my place in the boardroom for the weekly “sit-down” meeting, I make a faux pas: I try to make polite conversation. In my defence, I claim temporary confusion due to a mix-up with the more casual weekly “stand-up” meeting, which is held in another room but otherwise attended by precisely the same people who are now sitting …
Alistair Dabbs, 29 Nov 2014

I need a password to BRAKE? What? No! STOP! Aaaargh!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Why are Volvos called Volvos? Because their drivers are cunts.” Youtube Video So pronounced one of my bosses in my student holiday job days, as he sat, Buddha-like, at the head of the baggage-handlers’ crew-room at Leeds-Bradford Airport, delivering his words of wisdom to a weary audience of one. I eventually learned that …
Alistair Dabbs, 22 Nov 2014
2001 HAL poster

It’s PAYBACK time as HUMANS send a PROBE up ALIEN body

Something for the Weekend, Sir? “We hit something the size of South London from ten years away.” Thus spake commentard Colin Ritchie the other day in response to The Register’s ongoing coverage of Rosetta’s extraordinary space odyssey. 2001: A Space Odyssey - The Monolith On The Moon The significance of such an achievement should not be underestimated. In the …
Alistair Dabbs, 15 Nov 2014
Moments of perspiration

Got a STRAP-ON? Remember to TAKE IT OFF at WORK

Something for the Weekend, Sir? As soon as I arrive at a client’s office, I take everything off. The scratchy, suffocating feeling produced simply by wearing stuff drives me to distraction, so whenever I get the chance, off it comes. Oh to feel the air on my skin... My clothes, you will be relieved to learn, remain distributed in rough approximation of current …
Alistair Dabbs, 08 Nov 2014

Me GIVE you $14 SQUILLION gadziddly-DILLION

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Youtube Video I wish to notify you that my Late client Late. Engr. Alberto Gruber made you a beneficiary to his WILL. He left the sum of Seventeen Million Two Hundred Thousand Dollars (US$17,200.000.00) to you in the codicil and last testament to his WILL. After many years of relative calm in my spam box, a slow but steady …
Alistair Dabbs, 01 Nov 2014
iPad Psycho image

SKYPE has the HOTS for my NAKED WIFE

Something for the Weekend, Sir? My wife is parading naked in front of a webcam again. Here's the funny thing, though: she doesn't even know that the webcam is on. In fact, it's not even her computer – it's mine – and she's not doing it deliberately. Come to think of it, I wasn't even aware that my webcam was on until just now when the green LED illuminated all …
Alistair Dabbs, 25 Oct 2014
The Queen Mother by Phil Houghton

Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM

Something for the Weekend, Sir? When you have to go, you have to go. And when you do, don’t rush it otherwise you can end up with damp socks… as my father-in-law discovered during a hurried slash-and-dash in a not-so-lonely lay-by one night. I might revisit that particular anecdote later. For the moment, I invite you to consider what the computer has brought …
Alistair Dabbs, 18 Oct 2014
A black hole

Take CTRL! Shallow minds ponder the DEEP spectre of DARK CACHE

Something for the Weekend, Sir? If in doubt, right-click. It’s a motto that has served me well and stood the test of time. Can’t locate a command under multiple sub-menus? Right-click – it’s probably in the contextual menu. Can’t remember what the command is called? Right-click – you’ll find it there. Have absolutely no idea what to do next? Right-click – it …
Alistair Dabbs, 12 Oct 2014

What’s the KEYBOARD SHORTCUT for Delete?! Look in a contextual menu, fool!

Something for the Weekend, Sir? I'm leading a training course and a voice calls out: “Where’s the Spacebar?” Not such a daft question, you might think. When training people, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is comfortable with keyboard jargon. Except that I’m not teaching pensioners, Siberian farmers or visiting Martians, but journalists. You’d expect …
Alistair Dabbs, 04 Oct 2014

CURSE YOU, 'streaming' music services! I want a bloody CD

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Oh bloody hell, grandma, what have you done this time? “I thought that was obvious. It’s your birthday. I bought you a CD.” A CD? That’s so uncool. So unhip. Are you, like, square? “I remembered you used to like music when you were a student. Have you gone off it?” You no’ down wit’ da word, daddio. Grannio. CD is old. Is all …
Alistair Dabbs, 27 Sep 2014
Rubber bands

Oh God the RUBBER on my SHAFT has gone wrong and is STICKING to things

Something for the Weekend, Sir? My stiff rubbery shaft is sticky. I have tried applying water, gentle detergents and even screen wipes but the stickiness of my rubber remains. It is sticky along its full length from tip to end and even my wife, who has tried to peel off the rubber, agrees that the shaft feels unpleasant in her hands. The next time I buy a …
Alistair Dabbs, 20 Sep 2014

The Apple Watch and CROTCH RUBBING. How are they related?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? We would know when Peter had scored the night before because he’d walk into the office rubbing his crotch. The “lucky” girl to have been the subject of his special favours would invariably trot in a few paces behind, beaming smugly at her colleagues. These were the 1980s. Today everyone is obsessed with arses – Miley Cyrus’s …
Alistair Dabbs, 13 Sep 2014

IT jargon is absolutely REAMED with sexual double-entendres

Something for the Weekend, Sir? My wife is looking at online porn again. This can happen accidentally to anyone from time to time, usually while reading through the results of perfectly innocent web searches such as oyster bar or prize giving head boy. But here my wife is scrolling through pictures of men being er... “serviced” from behind by women wearing …
Alistair Dabbs, 07 Sep 2014

If you think 3D printing is just firing blanks, just you wait

Something for the Weekend, Sir? This week I met a gun nut. I knew this immediately because he was an American with a moustache. Americans with moustaches are always gun nuts. Don’t blame me, I don’t make the rules. It is simply the way of things. Youtube Video Sitting down at a gala dinner, I found myself sharing a table with an amiable group of US citizens …
Alistair Dabbs, 31 Aug 2014
Wifi grumpy cat

I’ve never paid for it in my life... we are talking Wi-Fi, right?

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Free at last! Free at last! Thank God, I’ve found some public Wi-Fi that’s free at last! When I say free, I mean I didn’t have to pay for it by giving away my email, address, date of birth or inside leg measurement, nor have to invent yet another unique password for the privilege of getting online at this location just for this …
Alistair Dabbs, 23 Aug 2014

You'll find Yoda at the back of every IT conference

Something for the Weekend, Sir? On stage, the presenter barely pauses for breath as he shares his extraordinary knowledge with rapid-fire delivery. His audience is captivated, amazed, enthralled. Digital design students all, they are learning from a master of online retail what life is like at the cutting edge of user interaction, giving them a hint of the hi- …
Alistair Dabbs, 15 Aug 2014
Costa Wi-Fi coffee

Nuts to your poncey hipster coffees, I want a TESLA ELECTRO-CAFE

Something for the Weekend, Sir? Tales from Bohemia, Silicon Roundabout style: in which intrepid explorer Alistair Dabbs goes in search of a cup of coffee in London's Silicon Roundabout tech district traffic feature... Indie cafe 1: Large soya latte, please. Am told they don’t do them in large. They weren’t wrong – drink is served in a vessel smaller than a …
Alistair Dabbs, 08 Aug 2014

Nice computers don’t need to go to the toilet, says Barclays

Something for the Weekend, Sir?* Ever been invited to a party only to discover they gave you the wrong address? This doesn’t happen to me often but then I’m not the sort of person whom people invite to parties. Anyway, this wasn’t a party, it was a user group meetup. There I am, having made an attempt to smarten up a bit, travelled across town and deliberately …
Alistair Dabbs, 31 Jul 2014